War memorial cultural center in Kermanshah, a source of honor

April 20, 2011 - 0:0

KERMANSHAH – The brave people of Kermanshah province suffered all kinds of hardships during 1980-1988 Iraq-Iran war to expel the aggressors from occupied cities and villages apart from any tribal tendency. The Kurdish people along with the combatants of Islam, both the army and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), rushed to the war fronts to make eternal history in this ancient Iranian western province and to demonstrate to the world that the Kermanshahi people will resist any aggression under any circumstances up to the last drop of their blood.

After the end of war, a memorial center called: “Sacred Defense Cultural Center of Kermanshah” was unveiled by Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani in 1995 in a special ceremony as the first war museum of the country.
The site on which the memorial center is built was used as a public shelter during the sacred defense years. The center has been situated near Shirin Park in downtown Kermanshah. The place reminds how the brave people of Kermanshah withstood the enemy and revives the memories of 76 martyrs and another 175 civilians who were wounded in a missile strike by the Saddam army. It was after this tragedy that it was decided to establish a memorial cultural complex on the site.
On March 17, 1987 an Iraqi warplane fired a missile into the same shelter of defenseless Kermanshahi citizens which massacred many including women, children and elderly – the missile was among thousands of missiles which had been gifted to Iraqi former dictator Saddam Hussein by the arrogant powers.
Eight years later, the same site of genocide turned into a memorial center of martyrs of the 1980-1988 Iraqi imposed war which is always open to the public free of charge.
Covering an area of 3145 square meter, the three-storey martyrs’ memorial center includes a great hall of exhibition of sacred defense in the first floor, the Shohada Hall and a library in the same floor and the second floor has been allocated to the Kermanshah branch office of the Foundation for the Preservation and Publication of Sacred Defense Works and Values.
The Shohada Hall with the capacity of 150 persons is fully equipped with special technical facilities for screening film, performing play, holding conference and other cultural events.
The library of the sacred defense contains more than 5,000 books on the history and literature of the sacred defense available for researchers.
In the outer space of the cultural center a number of tanks, armored personnel carriers, the wreckage of an Iraqi jet fighter along with Iranian copter wreckage are on display. The sacred defense exhibition is 650-square meter wide, consisting of main hall and 12 pavilions.
@@Pavilion of the army
The pavilion is designed to display the pictures of the everlasting epoch-maker martyrs as well as operational maquettes of the border cities of Ghasr-e Shirin and Sarpol-e Zahab along with various weapons.
@@Cities bombardment pavilion
During the imposed war, Iraq struck Kermanshah province 1126 times by warplanes and missiles. In the attacks, the cultural and industrial centers as well as residential areas were heavily destroyed and numerous people lost their lives. The pictures of victims are displayed in the pavilion.
@@Halabja genocide pavilion
The Saddam regime committed one of the most terrible crimes against the Iraqi Kurdish people in Halabja. The Halabja poison gas attack, also known as the Halabja massacre or the Bloody Friday, took place on March 16, 1988, during the closing days of the Iran–Iraq war, when Saddam’s forces dropped chemical weapons on the Kurdish town of Halabja in northern Iraq.
The attack, which is also called as “Second Hiroshima”, killed between 3,200 and 5,000 people, and injured around 7,000 to 10,000, most of them civilians. Thousands more died of diseases related to chemical weapons in the following years. Birth defects also followed the tragedy.
The incident, which has been officially defined as an act of genocide against the Kurdish population in Iraq, was and still remains the largest chemical weapons attack directed against a civilian-populated area in the history and it was actually a crime against humanity.
There are also other pavilions which include: Paveh Epoch-Makers Pavilion, Freed Prisoners of War Pavilion, Pilots Pavilion, Disabled Pavilion, Mersad Pavilion, Mine Pavilion, Ladies Pavilion, Martyrs Pavilion, and Public Bunker’s Pavilion.
Upon visiting this cultural center as a visitor, I as the writer of this article was so impressed by the atmosphere that immediately tears streamed down my face because I remembered the early days of the war in my hometown, the border city of Ghasr-e Shirin.
Actually, I adore the sincere and endless efforts of the Kermanshahi people and the authorities of the province who have attempted to revive the memories of the irreversible resistance of the combatants of Islam and the Kurdish people who defended their homeland and withstood the invading former Iraqi regime and its mercenaries. The city of Ghasr-e Shirin was totally destroyed (100 percent) by the Saddam forces before they were forced to retreat from the region.
Prominent veteran soldier of Islam Brigadier General Abdollah Veisi, chairman of the Sacred Defense Cultural Center of Kermanshah, warmly received me in his office and answered my questions enthusiastically. The following is the full text of his interview with the Tehran Times:
Q: General Veisi, would you please explain in brief about the objectives behind the establishment of this cultural center and its activities so far?
A: As you observe the name of this cultural center clearly shows the incidents which took place during 8 years of resistance to drive out the Iraqi forces from the province. Defense is the basic right of every living being which has been created by the Allah. Our main objective is to display the original documents of war to the coming generations to understand the sacrifices of combatants of Islam. The cultural complex was established officially in 1995. There are an amphitheatre, sacred defense library, a hall to recite poems, a center of sacred defense memories and commemoration of men and women participating in the war or behind the warfronts. Moreover, two syllables on the sacred defense are studied at the universities in order to familiar the youth with the incidents which occurred in the first decade of the Islamic Revolution and appreciate the epoch-makers who created history during this period for defending our Islamic homeland.
Q: Has the center achieved its main objectives?
A: The center has taken distance from any politically-motivated tendency towards rival political parties such as reformists or principlist. It has carried out its duties according to the decrees of the Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Khamenei. One of the outstanding objectives of the center is to exemplify people’s active participation in warfronts and make them familiar with eternal efforts of combatants of Islam. We have also provided an encyclopedia of war which covers sacrifices of martyrs, disabled, freed prisoners of war and bravery of combatants of Islam nationwide in general and in Kermanshah province in particular. The guidelines set by the founder of the Islamic Revolution the late Imam Khomeini (R) has been preserved as a source of historical treasure in the course of eight year sacred defense and more studies would be conducted in the future on the subject.
Q: What are your future plans to promote the achievements of the 8-year sacred defense?
A: The cultural center’s plans are envisaged based on the strategy of the Central Headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The cultural center presents its programs according to the culture, language, dialect and tribal tendency of a regional territory as directed by the “Islamic Iran” and Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Khamenei in the framework of age, gender and other considerations. To cite an example, two units are studied by the university students to familiarize them with the sacred defense all across the country.
(Simin Pahlavan contributed to the article)
Brigadier General Abdollah Veisi (L) talks to the Tehran Times journalist Ali Asghar Pahlavan in Kermanshah.